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Slimtones, Meet The Slimtones

by Gary Schwind (writer), Laguna Niguel, May 09, 2008

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A feature about Orange County blues veterans The Slimtones who vow, "If we're not having a good time, we won't do it anymore."

Sometimes it takes some pursuit to find a band to profile here. Other times, like this one, features just fall into the lap of this fortunate writer. Even though I am a blues devotee, I wasn't seeking out The Slimtones. I met guitarist/singer Steven Webber purely by chance one night. My wife and I were eating at a local Italian restaurant and Steven and his wife were seated at the table next to us. We got to talking, swapped business cards, and then I arranged to come and check out the band. Due to some technical difficulties, my interview did not quite come out. However, that is not going to stop me from featuring the band.

The Slimtones formed nearly ten years ago. "Buster and I started the band in ninety-nine with a Recycler ad looking for a harmonica player. He (Buster) showed up with a Deluxe amp and a six-pack of beer," said Webber. It is impressive enough for a local band to remain together for nearly ten years. As impressive is the speed with which the band was able to line up its first gig. "It was about a week and a half later, we booked a party. It was like 'OK, we’re working.'” Since that fateful meeting, the band has grown to six members and continues to play mostly Chicago blues in the Orange County area. "Once upon a time we had a chance to play the Doheny Blues Festival. It was the first year of major security crackdowns. While we were winding up our set, everybody was still getting searched. We played an entire set to the sound man. People came by and said, 'You sounded great but we couldn’t get in.'”

Webber's love for the blues began in the 60s when a man from Chicago played a cassette of Little Walter. "From then on, when everyone else was buying Beatles records, I was buying BB King, Albert King, any kind of blues I could get my hands on." Listening to the blues and "trying to emulate these blues players made me feel good."

Having witnessed one of the band's shows, it's safe to say that the music of The Slimtones makes its listeners feel good. At the Westside Bar and Grill in Costa Mesa, where the band has been performing for five years, there was no shortage of folks that wanted to get up and dance to the blues. "We don't really play it for the money," Webber said. "We play it for the love of playing it." That love comes through when the band takes the stage. The music does not necessarily come from instruments. It comes from somewhere deep within each member of the band.

Since Webber has had the blues and the Slimtones as a part of his life for such a long time, I felt it only fair to ask him what he'd be doing if he weren't making music. (Strangely, this was the one part of the interview that came out clearly on the recording.) "I’d probably just be sitting around like any other old man, complaining about the rest of my life. I’m happy with what I do and the fact that I have a really good woman at home makes it easy for her to be a band widow. And I can go out and do this. It doesn’t matter if our musical skills are not up to par. It’s all about having a good time. If you’re not having a good time, then why do it? That’s what we do."

For more information about The Slimtones, visit http://www.myspace.com/theslimtones.



About the Writer

Gary Schwind is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Slimtones, Meet The Slimtones

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By Neon on September 24, 2009 at 03:22 pm

Cool - way cool review.  One well-known aspect of Burning Man is the event’s disdain for vending (outside of the Center Camp coffee complex). This anti-commercial philosophy is one of Black Rock City’s defining characteristics. I understand where it comes from and why it’s still intact; it’s unique in the festival world, and I wouldn’t campaign for any change.

That said, I gotta admit that I totally enjoyed the vending scene in the “town” that sprang up on the grassy camping area at the Gorge Ampitheater in Washington during the Phish concerts. There were close to 20,000 people out there camping, which resulted in the creation of one main boulevard of commerce, called, appropriately enough, Shakedown Street (subtly showing the real connection that exists between the communities surrounding Phish and The Dead).

At first, I had this kind of “Burner snobbiness” toward Shakedown, a kind of, “Vending? You must be joking” stance that, fortunately, I quickly brushed aside. Because, as it turned out, Shakedown Street was the kind of bizarre bazaar that not only had stuff I wanted, but also had stuff being sold by people I wanted to help out and support. You know, the kind of folks who are trying to sell enough veggie wraps, ice cold beers, and crazy T-shirts just to stay on tour. Nice, colorful people who are very likely not driving Hummers to the next gig.

There were, as you would expect, a lot of wraps and quesadillas sold out there, along with digital art, funky crafts, loads of pipes, a bunch of T-shirts (mostly quoting lyrics from beloved Phish and Dead tunes), tons of beer, photos, books, and plenty of freaky, uncategorizable miscellany. All on display in a thriving, jiving, hustling, bustling contemporary hippie scene that was anything but stale, bland and corporate. In other words, Shakedown Street was a total hoot.

Included in the category of freaky miscellany would have to be the funky folks out there selling “herbal” pastries and “fungal” chocolates. They weren’t blatant about it, but they weren’t that paranoid about it, either. The cops didn’t seem too weird about it, which was refreshing. (Can you imagine such activity taking place in the quasi-police state that currently exists on the playa?) Some might call this “dark underbelly” licentious, scandalous and felonious. I prefer to call it civilized. In fact, it was kind of humorous. I wanted a sugary goodie after my lunch wrap on Saturday afternoon, and I had to trudge up and down The Street to find a cookie that wasn’t positively dripping with THC. It wasn’t all that easy. The rule of thumb, I discovered, is simple. If the cost of the goodie was $5, it was a “concert cookie.” If it was a buck, it was safe for dessert. I think the guy I saw sleeping behind some Sani-huts that afternoon must’ve got his cookies mixed up.

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